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Designer´s diary: Pioneers of the Solar System :: Keep on improving

Luish Moraes Coelho
Brazil
Florida
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Right now it may be described as a two to four players card game where players must complete space missions described on cards by placing the right sequence of cards next to an Earth card and making the mission card travel through this sequence until it´s reached the last frontier.

From the last playtest with four people I found that the overall feeling of the game was good, it might be growing something worth here. But I realize there must be a lot of road ahead (and, unfortunately, I can´t do light speed).

The game is still too long and not too much of asking difficult decisions from players during the game, maybe this is not a game for that, although not very obvious ones either, which is good. The game is concentrated on fighting for the turn order and its privileges more than trying to get the needed cards to complete a mission (this might change with some of the following). Timing is something that the game already has and that is a positive point. Players begin with a limited hand, a limited number of drawing cards, a specific way of running the missions, everything may change during the game according to the missions they accomplish.

As soon as I have a version that I feel comfortable with I´ll describe the game in detail here, with some images too.

Right now, I am working on a new prototype to play with and test some changes. There will be five cards of each planet (35 cards), seven moon cards, seven suns, fifteen earths. Twenty five space missions (chronologically sequenced since Laika).

Until now, the game ended after the fourteen mission is completed. I noticed that it may get fifteen minutes (at least) shorter taking out only two mission tokens without doing any damage to the game, better the contrary. So there will be twelve mission accomplished tokens from now on divided into this: three tokens worth four VPs (first three missions to be completed), five tokens worth three VPs for the following five missions and four tokens worth two VPs for the last four missions to be finished. Plus, each mission have its own VPs, star bonuses and privileges.

A player to get a mission first in a planet is a Pioneer and gets the planet token. Who ever gets more planet tokens at the end gets 7VPs, the second gets 4VPs, the third gets 2VPs.

The game ends during the round where a player finishes the twelfth mission with all the players getting the same number of actions, one may still complete a mission right after it, although he/she won´t get a VP token for that.

I plan to test two changes: initial deck will only have four types of planets the closest to the earth through the orbit sequence (Mars, Venus, Mercury and Jupiter), plus some vacuum cards. Saturn, Uranus and Neptune build a second deck that will get into the game through telescope action only. This may make players more aware of what type of cards are available and what kind of missions they may try to develop first.

Another change is a planning action. Players will be able to build mission´s plannings by placing cards next to an Earth card. They may change its sequence until a mission has begun with that sequence. Place a card on a sequence is an action, change it´s order is another action. This has two main objectives: open room on a players limited hand without discarding a card but taking the risk of putting a planet card on a mission that doesn´t require it and allow players to think ahead and prepare earlier for future missions.

well, that´s it for now (although the mind keeps spinning!).
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Tue Mar 12, 2013 7:26 pm
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Designer´s diary: Pioneers of the Solar System :: Or not too soon

Luish Moraes Coelho
Brazil
Florida
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Just a quick post:

Well, only yesterday I could manage to have a new table of playtesting with some changes.
The game developed a lot from the last try. I limited it to 2 to 4 players this time. Yesterday, the heroes were Paulo Firmo, Renato, Pablo and me.

It took two hours to finish, but the game play was fun, we talked a lot while playing, trying to figure out what to do, so it wasn´t a real time play. And the game finally got to an end, for the first time with real people.

It was an overall good experience. I look forward to new playtesting and a few adjustments.
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Fri Feb 22, 2013 10:52 pm
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Designer´s diary: Pioneers of the Solar System :: First prototype

Luish Moraes Coelho
Brazil
Florida
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It was firstly designed for 2 to 5 players.
There is a deck of planets of the solar system with a few cards of each planet, a deck of Earth cards, a deck of missions.
The first try was played with Mario Lucio Zico and Braulio xuBs, who were heroes to face this very annoying experience of playing an under development game at its first hours. Thank you guys.
Soon, I could see it deserved some improvements badly to become a reasonable game. The good part is that it already feel like a game at some point in the begining, in the middle it got flat, and it didn´t have an end. We just stopped it.

I thought it should have a turn order according to some special actions each player would choose. Each action has a priority number. First player may choose action number three, so he will play third. The next turn just takes the last turn order of plays and follows the opposite sequence of players to choose a new action.
I played it with other players now. The new space heroes were Paulo, Kayke, Renato, Pablo and me.
After everybody has chosen an special action, player with action number one gets to play two actions.
This time, I noticed that this mechanic makes the game a bit slow for five players. I´ll do some changes on the deck of cards and on the rules, then try it again soon.
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Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:22 pm
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Designer´s diary: Pioneers of the Solar System :: First thoughts

Luish Moraes Coelho
Brazil
Florida
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I´ve thought of creating a game about the solar system where players should do the historical space missions, with and without crew, in order to explore the solar system.

I´d like it to be a light to medium light card game, where one could have a notion of these missions and get familiar to the planets while playing.
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Sat Dec 8, 2012 9:43 am
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